Quick Guides

My Quick Guides are designed to cover the 20% of the information that users need 80% of the time.  The overarching goal is to reduce stress levels  — the patron’s, the staff’s and mine.

I developed my “Nutshell” citation guides in consultation with the Writing Centre.   The director wanted something that students could put in the pockets of their binders for easy reference, and I wanted something that library staff could hand out at the service desk.

The problem with citation styles is that their details are largely arbitrary.  There is no logical reason why APA should put titles of  articles in sentence case while MLA puts them in title case, and this makes it hard to keep them straight.  This is not a problem for professors, who tend to spend their working lives using the same citation style they used in graduate school, but it is a problem for undergraduates who must use different styles for different subjects, and it is a problem for the library staff who are expected to help them.

My Quick Guides for assistive technology and small electronics serve a similar purpose.  When library staff use a technology every day or every week, they quickly become familiar with it, but when they only use it once a month or once every six months, it’s a different story.  And if they are further expected to demonstrate the technology to patrons, they can get really nervous.  My solution is to create quick guides for use by both staff and patrons.  These guides are never longer than two sides of a single sheet of paper, and are not intended to replace instruction manuals.  Their purpose is to get users started with the technology.


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